Shipping Container Cabins, Homes and Buildings by HyBrid Architecture

About HyBrid Architecture

24ft Prefab Shipping Container Home

Project: c192 Nomad
Area: 192 sq ft (17.8 sq m)
Year: 2011

Built in a single 24ft container, this prefab shipping container home is designed as a remote retreat or self contained backyard cottage. Expansive openings allow the space to fully embrace its surroundings. Unit's area is 192 sq ft with a bathroom, galley kitchen, built in storage, room for beds and flex space. In this version of the HyBrid prefab containers range, a pull out couch turns into a bed and a fold down wall unit becomes even more sleeping space. The kitchen and all of the furniture were sponsored by IKEA. The bathroom is a glass-walled area with sleek modern Duravit fixtures.

Doors and large windows open up onto a large external deck, which extends the inner living space. The cut out shipping container sides were used to create sliding exterior doors to close up the container home when not in use. A solar system mounted on the roof of the unit provides power for the kitchen stove, hot water heater, lighting and radiant heater.

This 24ft prefab shipping container home is a one of the c-series factory built modules made from recycled shipping containers that can be customized or combined as desired by the customer. The c-series range consists of five designs in cost from $29,500 to $189,500. Off-grid and green options are offered including composting toilets, solar panels, roofwater harvesting and “green machine” sewage treatment. The sprayed-in insulation creates R32 floors, R44 ceilings and R24 walls. The prefab container home can be placed in cold climate conditions as well as hot climates. The roof snow load is 60psf.

The 24ft prefab shipping container homes from HyBrid Architecture are shipped complete. A local builder will need to be arranged for foundation work as well as sewage and electrical hook-ups. In many local jurisdictions, if a project area is less than 200sf there is no full permitting process required. Compact, adaptable and relocatable, these prefab container homes can be used for guest rooms, backyard offices, extra living space or smart and sustainable housing. The modular units are completely built in a specialized factory then easily transported via truck for a quick one day installation on building site. HyBrid Architecture has completed commercial and residential prefab container projects in Washington, Oregon and California and has designed over 20 projects worldwide.

“You can essentially press a button and order a house shipped to you—within eight weeks,” said Joel Egan, principal architect at HyBrid.

HyBrid showed off its c192 Nomad model home at 2011 Pacific Coast Builders Conference in San Francisco. The Nomad can last 400 years, Egan said. The firm focuses on maximizing the efficiency of the cargo container space. The Nomad dwelling spans eight feet wide, 192 square feet in all, and the price for its design and manufacture starts at $59,500. Customized options include solar panels, composting toilets, water collection decks, and additional doors.

“This represents the beginning of a system that we’re offering,” Egan said. “It’s sort of predesigned, but it allows different containers, different sizes—homes and offices—to plug into each other, to stack essentially like Legos [sic] any way the client wants to do it.”

Aside from being combined to create larger spaces, this sustainable dwelling can be an addition in the back yard as a home office or a guesthouse that sleeps up to four people. It can also be used as a self-contained vacation retreat in the mountains.

“This [Nomad model] is the first we’ve actually built in a factory,” said Peter Secan, HyBrid project manager.

HyBrid is located in Seattle, Washington, and has built cargotecture in Washington, Oregon, and California. Besides homes, cargotecture also includes commercial space. HyBrid has designed a 3,600-square-foot office building, Secan said, as well as townhomes and ski lodges.

“They’re engineered to go twelve floors high,” said Secan, adding that the dwellings are seismic fitted as well. “They’re fully capable of being earthquake safe.”

HyBrid researches, designs, and arranges the construction of cargo container homes. In as little as eight weeks, a feasibility study can be completed, required permits can be obtained, and the dwelling can be built. The construction of the shipping container home itself takes three to four weeks, Secan said. The home is typically transported by truck from the factory to be installed at the designated site and can be relocated at any time.

The Nomad cargotecture home can function completely off the power grid. To be self-sustaining, the shipping container home can be designed with solar panels for electricity and water, roof water collection, propane, and an above-ground septic system.

“You can get satellite and Wi-Fi …,“ said Egan. “So at that point, you have no utility bill, no address to send it to … . You can relocate it around the world.”

24ft Prefab Shipping Container Home

King County Parks Competition Winner - Shipping Container Cabin, Seattle, Washington

HyBrid Architecture won the competition for a shipping container cabin at King County (Seattle, Washington) Parks Department. This beautiful design hosts couples and kids in bunk beds and is overinsulated. These features make it extremely popular for guests in Fall & Winter at the campground.

King County Parks Competition Winner - Shipping Container Cabin, Seattle, Washington

192 sq ft Shipping Container Guest Cabin, San Francisco, California

A shipping container guest cabin was needed adjacent to an existing stick-built cabin at a site 4 hours north of San Francisco.  This great-looking steel shipping container guest cabin was sandblasted to reveal the brown Corten weathering steel behind the paint. Corten steel has about 5% nickel in it, which means that when it rusts 1/32”, it will then rust no further, yielding a fantastic look. That is why shipping containers, and indeed all sea-going ships, are all built from Corten weathering steel. This shipping container guest cabin also has a projected roof which sheds water from areas around it, which is available as an option for most models.

More shipping container homes in California:

Shipping Container Homes California - Architects, Builders, Designers

McConkey Shipping Container Home, San Diego, California

Beautiful Shipping Container House Concept by Whitaker Studio, California

Low Cost Shipping Container Office Space, Los Angeles, California

Two-Story 4x40ft and 1x20ft Shipping Container Home, Santa Barbara, California

20 ft shipping container home in Sacramento, California

Shipping Container Duplex House, Redondo Beach, California

Shipping containers in loft apartment, San Francisco, California

Modular Shipping Container Home in Mojave Desert, California

Refrigerated Shipping Container Home, San Francisco, California

192 sq ft Shipping Container Guest Cabin, San Francisco, California

320 sq ft Off-the-Grid Shipping Container House, Seattle, Washington

This retreat is a (somewhat) famous off-the-grid shipping container house project which has been featured on several television programs, including HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style” and “Some Assembly Required.”  It is situated on the wooded edge of a big farm outside of Seattle.  The owner uses this completely off-the-grid modern cabin to get away from the bustle of farm activity, as well as for guests. Many sustainable concepts have been integrated into this container home, including using recycled containers, decking milled from wind-felled trees, and recycled steel in the foundation.

320 sq ft Off-the-Grid Shipping Container House, Seattle, Washington

384 sq ft Shipping Container Backyard Home Office, Portland, Oregon

This is a shipping container backyard home office in the Fremont District of Portland, Oregon. The owners are very happy with their new 384 square foot office, built in 2010. It is made of two 24-foot containers, and features a “Green Roof” which increases insulation, improves the habitat, and reduces energy usage.

384 sq ft Shipping Container Backyard Home Office, Portland, Oregon

LEED Platinum 640 sq ft Shipping Container Recycling Center, Santa Monica, California

This wonderful and successful project was designed for Santa Monica, California in 2012 to help its citizens understand more about the recycling process. The Shipping Container Recycling Center hosts school groups learning about environmental responsibility. A LEED Platinum project, the two-40-foot containers feature a “Green Roof”, ceramic heat-resistant white paint, and sustainable windows and doors.

LEED Platinum 640 sq ft Shipping Container Recycling Center, Santa Monica, California

680 sq ft Shipping Container Two-Story Retreat, Seattle, Washington 

This shipping container two-story retreat is on an island outside Seattle. This wonderful shipping container house looks out across its beach to the shipping lanes to and from Asia, where many shipping containers can be seen passing each day. The context is fantastic. Designed to handle high winds and storms, this shipping container home also features a large deck, a beautiful stylish interior and access to the slope behind it.

680 sq ft Shipping Container Two-Story Retreat, Seattle, Washington 

1280 sq ft Shipping Container Double-Wide Two Story Home

The Prospect series are double-wide two story shipping container homes. This 1280 sq ft shipping container home has a ten foot cantilever and a ten foot deck. Two bedrooms, two baths, multiple home office spaces. The upper story has the original shipping container floor. The client painted the Orca whale mural. This is a durable, comfortable shipping container home with luxury features.

1280 sq ft Shipping Container Double-Wide Two Story Home

3600 sq ft Shipping Container Three Story Retail, Seattle, Washington

This landmark structure was and is Seattle’s first shipping container-based commercial building, and generated extensive media coverage at the time.  Erected in 2009 in the aftermath of the Great Recession, it represents a 20-40% reduction in construction costs compared to typical commercial construction. Constructed from 12 shipping containers, it houses a double-height retail showroom gallery and 7200 (2x3600) square feet of total space on the 7,000 square foot lot. It features a Green Roof, sustainable landscaping, and recycled materials for reduced environmental impact.

3600 sq ft Shipping Container Three Story Retail, Seattle, Washington

About HyBrid Architecture


Joel Egan is a Seattle native who received his BS in Experiential Psychology in 1994 from Western Washington University. His study of the effects of the five human senses led to his deep understanding of function and form and the human experience of the built structure.

Living in Winthrop, Washington, high in the Cascades, Joel mastered residential design and construction in extreme hot/cold weather environments. He earned his Masters in Architecture from the University of Oregon in 2000, with an emphasis on sustainability. During school he lived and worked in France, Italy, and Japan.

Joel founded Cargotecture in 2003, and practices in Seattle, Washington. The firm has past and ongoing work in the Pacific Northwest, Texas, California, Vermont, New York, Nevada, Utah, and Florida. The practice can support projects around the world.
Cargotecture can provide services ranging from schematic design, design development, consultancy, and project management for any global project. Cargotecture creates both site-built and factory-built designs and completed projects. Cargotecture also provides permitting services for projects in most jurisdictions.

Cargotecture gets its name from the practice of creating buildings out of steel intermodal shipping containers, which it helped to pioneer. This has now become a trend featured in architectural and style journals worldwide. This method merges Egan’s focus on sustainability with his understanding of the interplay of senses and structure.

Your project, its timeline, and cost can often be easily determined by a conversation on the phone. Please take a moment to enter your phone number. Check a box whether it is textable or not. Check Morning Daytime Evening as the one, two, or three times best to speak on the phone.

Why do you build structures from steel shipping containers?

The steel intermodal-shipping container (ISC) was designed to simplify and streamline long-distance shipping in the era after World War Two, and there are millions of these containers in existence, with many out of use. In recent years, architects and builders have come to recognize that these versatile strong platforms represent a way to unite environmental concern with structural integrity. Disused containers can be sustainably recycled into real estate, eliminating waste. Cargotecture was founded to manifest this promise.

Is cargo/shipping/intermodal container architecture appropriate for affordable housing?

The best answer is “Maybe.” Affordability is a flexible concept, depending greatly on regional and local real estate valuations and trends. For example, in the Upper Midwest, where a Victorian can be obtained for less than $100,000, including land, it would be difficult to produce an ISC-based home with as much space for that cost. On the other hand, in markets where real estate is dear and zoning makes land expensive, ISC homes can be a viable alternative to stick-built, especially in jurisdictions that specifically allow for microhousing.

Can you give me an example?

In places such as the Pacific Northwest, Silicon Valley, and the Northeast, prices are high and zoning is tight, so new construction is both rare and expensive. If one can add a two-bedroom home to an existing property in the San Francisco area for less than $200,000, this represents a significant savings of as much as 90% from the existing market rate. Groupings of such homes could represent a very viable rental investment. In such areas, steel shipping container homes can become a bridge to homeownership for young people, and can assist municipalities experiencing housing shortages. In such regions, ISC homes are a viable affordable housing concept.

What should I know about zoning?

Even if your area does not allow microhousing, it may be possible to add an ISC building to your current property, or to get an ISC home approved on developable vacant land. Cargotecture recommends that our potential customers begin the investigative process with the relevant municipal zoning and planning departments before truly contemplating a purchase. In many jurisdictions, if your project is less than 200sf there is no permitting process required.

Are there barriers to ISC home construction?

There are several elements that can increase the cost of an ISC-based building.

• Container-based construction does not reduce the cost of permit-required components inside.
• Micro-home appliances are less common and micro-sized, making them more expensive than appliances found in stick-built construction.
• The steel container conversion adds some costs, such as adding insulation, floors, doors, and windows.
• Steel ISCs are very heavy.

These issues are often surmountable, so long as the regional cost ratio remains favorable.

Why select Cargotecture for my micro-home, retreat, DADU, or home office?

Cargotecture’s Principal Joel Egan has been a leader in the ISC-construction industry for over a decade, and this experience makes our designs a cut above in style, utility and sustainability. A Cargotecture home or office is sustainable, smart, modern, and durable enough to last several generations – not to mention just plain COOL!

Pluses include:

• They can be relocated (including their foundations), so they can be moved from season to season, turning from fish camp to surf shack.
• They can be secured against intruders and storms.
• They are nostalgic for their globetrotting history.
• Architecture critics love them.
• They travel easily on typical trucks, ships, and trains.
• This is a unique luxury retreat that can be a transferrable asset for many generations.

I am a do-it-yourself builder and would like to use your construction documents. Can you help me build my own?

On a case-by-case basis, we provide contractual ISC construction consulting services. We have worked with engineers, architects, builders and do-it-yourselfers with great results. Please contact us to discuss our models, plans, and options.

I live in an extremely hot and cold weather environment. Are your designs fully insulated? Would these homes be able to handle these extremes?

Yes. All our models are insulated about 15% above IBC and UBC building codes in the floors, walls and roofs. The building can be placed in cold, moderate and hot climates. The recycled plastic and soy sprayed-in insulation is more than sufficient for most climates — R24 walls, R 44 ceilings, and R32 floors. The roofs can handle 60psf snow loads.

How much will shipping the Cargotecture from the factory cost?

Shipping tends to be approximately $1.20 per mile per truck (up to 40’ on one truck). If you provide us with your Zip code and address we can offer an accurate delivery cost to your location.

What kind of foundation is recommended?

The foundation depends on the soil and terrain on which you will be placing your Cargotecture structure. Proper foundation configurations are important. Your local contractor/ engineer must approve them with your local planning/zoning/building department. Full detailed drawings will be available once your order has been initiated. These drawings will assist your contractor in determining the right foundation for the terrain. Cargotecture recommends diamond-shaped pre-cast concrete/steel foundational piers (examples can be seen at They are less expensive and more green than a site-poured slab and they have been approved in seismic, frost, flood, high wind zones as well as areas with poor soils. Cargotecture procures these with cargo container locking mechanisms already installed. They come shipped with the unit at an average cost of $220 per block and most homes require a minimum of 6 blocks.

Is the installation included?

If you are located in Washington State, our construction arm can build your foundation and set the home. If out of the area, we will assist you in selecting a contractor that can build your foundation and hook up your sewage and electrical systems. The final installation needs to meet local code requirements.

Do you have awnings for outdoor living, and decks to expand my livable space?

Awnings are available as an option for passive heating and cooling. These are available in 15’x10’ sections. Decks are available in a 12 x 20 size, with customization additional.

What additional options, such as roofs for green roof gardening, are available?

There are several. Please see the options tab of this website for specifics. (Must add green rubber roofing cost to OPTIONS Page.)

Does the purchase price include all the electrical/water/washroom installations/connections?

Yes! Our homes are shipped complete, including plumbing if your model has a kitchen or bath. It is a complete inspection-approved move-in ready home, requiring only foundations and electrical/plumbing hookup. Permitting is also additional, but in many jurisdictions, if your project is less than 200sf there is no permitting process required.

Where do you deliver?

We ship worldwide.

Are you in a position to build with my own designs? What is maximum size that you can do?

We can do some minor customization. The cost will be quoted on a separate basis and it can increase the time to complete the drawings. Please see the “custom designs” tab on this website for more information.

Address4211 SW College St., Seattle, WA 98116
Phone+1 2064952520

Shipping Container Cabins, Homes and Buildings by HyBrid Architecture